By Paul Gable
When Horry County Council member Dennis DiSabato pulled his proposed ordinance tightening gun regulations within the county during a council meeting earlier this week, he may have finally learned a lesson in local culture.
That lesson? If you are going to call yourself a “conservative Republican” politician in Horry County, don’t mess with a person’s gun rights.
DiSabato reportedly introduced the ordinance, which would have essentially eliminated shooting east of the Waccamaw River and in Longs, in response to complaints from a few constituents in the Carolina Forest area.
The county already has ordinance restrictions on shooting within 300 feet of homes, schools, churches and commercial areas as well as restrictions against “reckless discharge” of firearms. DiSabato’s proposed ordinance would have expanded the existing restrictions.
Up for reelection next year, DiSabato may have viewed the increased restrictions as a means to secure his voting base in Carolina Forest. If so, it backfired.
Several council members reportedly warned DiSabato that opposition to the new restrictions on shooting would be unpopular.
According to a number of sources, council members received hundreds of emails from voters opposing the new regulations including a number of those emails from voters in DiSabato’s District Three.
Interestingly opposition was not only against the new restrictions themselves, but also against perceived government overreach in legislation affecting citizens’ rights.
Local activist Chad Caton was directly on point when he told council members during public input that they should be concentrating on the infrastructure needs of the county rather than attempting to limit 2nd Amendment rights.
The infrastructure needs of the county are serious especially in the areas of stormwater management, road improvements and public safety staffing.
County officials have stated the current ordinance restricting shooting in certain areas is sufficient, enforceable and already can be applied to incidents of reckless shooting.
To paraphrase a comment council member Danny Hardee made at this week’s council meeting, you can’t ‘legislate against stupid’ and attempting to is what upsets voters, especially the conservative voters of Horry County.
If DiSabato was attempting to make a case for his reelection with the new gun ordinance, it demonstrated a misunderstanding of local culture and a vast majority of conservative voters in the county and may actually hurt him at the polls.